DuPont: Water-Glass villa in Japan

A Water/Glass villa overlooking the Pacific ocean on a bluff high above the Atami coast has won first prize in the Residential section of the 1997 DuPont Benedictus Awards for innovation in laminated glass for architect Kengo Kuma of Kengo Kuma & Associates, Tokyo.

The glass villa, which is a guest house for a neighboring villa designed by architect Bruno Taut, is a construction over water of three all-glass pods linked by glass bridges and reached by a glass staircase – all constructed of laminated glass for safety reasons.

The floor of the uppermost, third level is covered with a 15 centimeter-deep layer of water, upon which have been positioned three glass boxes. Stainless steel louvers roof the whole water-covered section, so that the entire structure is built on two horizontal frames: the water level and the louvers with the intervening glass working as a filter.

According to architect Kengo Kuma, the villa is a type of experimental sight line installation, a facility which incorporates a variety of architectural and natural elements.

Third floor lounge

In order to create visual continuity between the floor of the third floor lounge and the Pacific Ocean, the floor of the lounge is made of two pieces of safety glass laminated together. Lighting fixtures are set under the floor, so that the floor is seen as if it is floating on the water at night. A table and chairs in the lounge are made of glass to avoid disturbing the view. Laminated glass is used for the seats and the backs of the glass chairs for strength.

The bridge

The third floor of the glass villa can be accessed from the deck on the first floor by way of a glass bridge. All parts of the bridge (the floor, the handrails and the roof) are made of laminated glass so that people approaching the building have the impression that they are "floating in air" while enjoying an unobstructed view of a waterfall on the right side of the bridge.

The stairs

To enable guests and visitors to appreciate the view to the maximum, and to keep visual continuity from the hall to the waterfall and on to the bridge, the villa's stairs are also made of laminated safety glass. Lighting fixtures are set on the ceiling and the floor of the staircase, and the light spreads over the whole staircase and through the glass steps, so that the staircase becomes one with the courtyard.

The 1997 DuPont Benedictus Award Judges said: "We were impressed by the magical situation of a villa built on a floor of water … with the sea below it … This is perfectly made … the detailing of the dining room … the connector between the glass and the stone of the coast … very simply expressed … an interesting use of light … We thought of the view of the villa from the sea and were impressed again."

600450 DuPont: Water-Glass villa in Japan

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